Pumpkin Cake With Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

This pumpkin cake is another one of those baked-around-the-Internet recipes, like my ultimate chocolate chip cookies. Blame Deb Perelman over at the fabulous Smitten Kitchen. She turned my light pumpkin cake and its luscious maple–cream cheese frosting into cupcakes. From there, tons of bloggers have made either the cake or the cupcakes and added their own unique touches. And things have never been the same. Now it’s your turn to try the original. Remember, you found it here.–David Leite

LC Butter Makes Everything Better Note

This addictive maple–cream cheese frosting tends to be a bit on the soft side—as in, perhaps a little too soft if the cake needs to sit out for a few hours in a warm kitchen. (Um, by “a warm kitchen,” we mean a kitchen in which the turkey is roasting and all four burners are blasting.) This is easily remedied by adding an extra stick of butter to the recipe. (An extra stick of butter solves all manner of sins, doesn’t it?) The result is a sturdier frosting, with no sacrifice in flavor, that’s able to withstand sitting out for several hours in any climate.

Update Dec. 5, 2013: By using Grade B maple syrup–which isn’t inferior to Grade A but rather has more robust flavor–I find that the frost holds up beautifully and needs no extra butter.

Pumpkin Cake With Maple–Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 8


  • For the pumpkin cake
  • 2 cups cake flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • For the maple cream–cheese frosting
  • Two (8-ounce) packages Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (4-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B amber


  • Make the pumpkin cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Butter two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, line them with parchment circles, butter the parchment, and coat the pan with flour. Tap out the excess.
  • 2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • 3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • 4. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  • 5. Divide the batter equally between the pans. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto racks and remove the parchment paper. Cool completely.
  • Make the maple–cream cheese frosting
  • 6. In a stand mixer beat the cream cheese butter, confectioners’ sugar, and maple syrup on medium until fluffy.
  • 7. To assemble the cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set, if needed.
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